Just a Lawyer in Lincoln's Hometown

August 22, 2017

Conscientious (or Scared) Employees Screwed by the Clock.

Filed under: Employment Law — Chuck @ 5:15 pm
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One of the more common methods of calculating pay for employees is “rounding.” Often employers will round employees’ time to a preset increment. In my experience it is to the nearest quarter-hour.

For example, if an employee clocks in at 8:55 a.m., the employer (or more likely the payroll company or software) will round the time to 9 a.m., erasing five minutes of work. Of course, if the employee clocks in at 9:05 a.m. the employer should round the time to 9:00 a.m. giving the employee a bonus.(The system was reasonable when all these calculations were made by hand – but that is rarely the case anymore.)

When rounding interacts with employer attendance policies, it can hurt employees. Conscientious employees tend to clock in a few minutes early in any case. But companies that strictly enforce tardy rules, get scared employees who don’t want to get in trouble for being late, and so they are coerced into clocking in early. in either case those extra minutes are rounded away.

The minutes add up. A 5-minute loss of time every work dayadds up to about 100 minutes per month per worker. While each individual worker loses only a little over an hour and a half of pay
per month (not insignificant but not usually enough to give the employee the incentive to take on the employer), the employer gets a lot of free work across the entire workforce.

Fairly applied rounding is generally allowed under existing wage rules. (Note that its not always applied fairly, I have encountered employers who rounded up all clock-ins, thus always stealing pay from the employee.)

March 29, 2011

Hey, listen up!

Filed under: Employment Law — Chuck @ 1:45 am
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Employers beware, when an employee makes an oral complaint that raises issues of overtime, wage payment, or minimum wages, it is now clear that an employer may not retaliate. The Supreme Court in Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., held that if an employee’s oral complaint is “sufficiently clear and detailed for a reasonable employer to understand it, in light of both content and context, as an assertion of rights protected by the statute,” it can trigger the anti-retaliation protections of the FLSA.

Although the Court specifically declined to rule in whether purely internal complaints are protected, a fair reading of the language used by the court makes it likely that the Court would rule that way if pushed to do so.

Employers, don’t retaliate. Employees, don’t be (as) afraid to complain about problems. Both sides, speak to an employment lawyer first.

Chuck from Watson Law, LLC

February 16, 2011

Employers – Wake Up

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chuck @ 7:29 am
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Employers,

Just because one or more of the people who worked for you only lasted a few months, or even weeks, you are NOT excused from giving them a W-2. Even if you want to classify them as “Temps”, they were employees who should have had taxes withheld and who are now owed W-2s. You are late, get to it.

Thank You.

October 18, 2010

IWPCA Amendments, Part 3

Filed under: Employment Law — Chuck @ 1:00 am
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Employers face increased penalties for not paying proper wages. An employe who recovers unpaid wages in either the Illinois Department of Labor, or in the Circuit Courts, can recover the underpayments, any consequential damages, and a 2% (of the underpayments) per month penalty for each month since the underpayment. If the action is brought in the courts the employee can recover costs and reasonable attorneys fees.

Not helpful to already underpaid employees, but providing a real incentive to employers to comply with the law is the increased criminal liability that may attach to underpayment of wages. In addition to other remedies a willful violation could result in criminal conviction of a Class B misdemeanor for underpayments of $5,00 or less or a Class A misdemeanor for underpayments of more than $5,000. And repeated violations can result in a felony conviction.

The employee’s chances of success have been increased by yet another change to the IWPCA. Employees who complain to their employers, the IDOL, at public hearings, or even to community organizations, about wage issues, as well as employees who bring actions or testify in investigations or trials, may recover all appropriate legal or equitable remedies. If the action to recover for retaliation is brought in the courts, the employee may recover attorney’s fees as well.

And as a final incentive, the changes to the IWPCA appear to make it clearer that officers of the company who knowingly allow wage underpayments may be considered employers. In other words they can be held individually liable for the wage underpayments.

Lawyers and other interested parties should, of course, review the statute itself.

The rest of you should keep these issues in mind. The days of employers thinking that a claim for underpayment of wages is but a cost of doing business should be over. The increased criminal penalties, the personalization of liability, and the chances of class actions should help employers understand that the law must be followed.

As always, mult-part posts will be put together into a larger article and posted at the Watson & Linder website. I’ll get to that in the near future. Feel free to visit.

Chuck from Watson Law, LLC

October 11, 2010

IWPCA Amendments, Part 2

Filed under: Employment Law — Chuck @ 1:00 am
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As I noted in my last post, there were changes made to the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act in the summer of 2010. One of the big changes concerns enforcement of wage claims. Prior to the amendments an employee making a claim at the Illinois Department of Labor, could walk away with an investigatory finding and administrative directive to the employer to pay wages due. BUT, if the employer did not pay, the employee had to go to the courts to file a wage claim lawsuit, presenting all of his or her evidence again. In other words, the trip to the IDOL was just a practice run giving the Employer a look-see at the employee’s evidence. It was usually better to go straight to

Starting January 1, 2011, an employee with a claim of $3,000 or less may take an action to the IDOL, and get a final administrative decision. A final administrative decision is just that – Final. It may be appealed through the Administrative Review Law, but no new evidence is normally allowed. So the hearing at the IDOL really means something.

Of possibly more importance, however, is the ability of an employee to bring the claim as a class action. This had not been allowed under the IWPCA prior to the amendments. If an employer has engaged in an improper practice toward the whole of the businesses workforce, as class action could be devastating. It is much more likely that employers will do whatever is necessary to avoid class actions – even strictly follow the law.

These amendments are important. Both employees and employers need to learn about them. More in later posts. As with all multi-part posts, they will be collected together into a longer single article at the Watson & Linder website when completed.

Chuck from Watson Law, LLC

October 9, 2010

But I can’t work overtime!

Filed under: Employment Law — Chuck @ 10:49 am
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“But I can’t work overtime!” I often get people in my office who can’t work overtime hours, and sometimes full-time hours. They may have any number of disabilities. Stress related disorders may require that they leave the workplace after 8 or fewer hours, even when the employer wants overtime.

Despite the language of the ADA and its regulations encouraging modified or reduced schedules, the courts have been less than supportive of this accommodation. All to often the courts have said that being at work when the employer wants the employee there is essential.

So, depending on the circumstances, the ADA may be out of the question. But that does not necessarily end the possibilities for the employee. If the employer is large enough and the employee qualifies, there may be a FMLA remedy. If the employee has a serious health condition (disability) the doctor may prescribe and certify, for example, that the employee needs to work no more than 8 hours in a day and that the employee needs leave for anything over 8 hours.

This may not work depending on the circumstances – but it should be looked at. I have had very good luck convincing employers that employees need a “modified” schedule. Often a less than sympathetic employer may shrug off a claim under one or the other law. But when you can make a legitimate claim under both statutes, they may feel the need to settle.

Good Luck

Chuck from Watson Law, LLC

October 4, 2010

Changes to the Wage Payment and Collection Act, Part 1

Filed under: Employment Law — Chuck @ 1:00 am
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The Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act has been a help to Illinois employees for many years. But the statute has been a VERY imperfect help. The IWPCA had many loopholes that kept employers insulated from the consequences of their improper actions, and lead many employers to consider actions brought under the IWPCA to be but a cost of doing business rather than a reason to comply with the law. Employees were often unprotected if they tried to enforce their rights, and there were disincentives to moving to enforce their rights.

The recent changes to the Act, signed in the summer of 2010, and effective January 1, 2011, close some enforcement loopholes and ramps up some of the enforcement procedures. The changes, which I will post on in the future, make it much more worthwhile for an employee to complain about wage and hour problems, and to get an attorney to enforce his or her rights. Just importantly, employers will now have a real reason to seek knowledgeable counsel to make sure that they are treating employees correctly under the law. The penalties associated with noncompliance are too great to ignore.

Keep an eye out for future posts. As with all multi-part posts, they will be collected together into a longer single article at the Watson & Linder website when completed.

Chuck from Watson Law, LLC

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